BETHEL – What appeared to be a serious head-on collision on Route 26 on New Year’s Day turned out to be a minor injury accident, according to state police.

Justin Santos, 18, of South Paris was driving north at 1:15 p.m. in a 1996 Plymouth Neon when he lost control on slush and veered into the opposite lane, colliding with a rental 2006 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by John White, 40, of Bryant Pond, State Trooper Christopher Cookson said Tuesday afternoon.

White tried unsuccessfully to avoid the accident just north of Rabbit Road, but couldn’t due to a guardrail, he added.

Because both vehicles remained on the road, Route 26 was shut down. Bethel Rescue took Santos and White to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, where they were treated and released, Cookson said.

Cookson credited safety belt use by both drivers and air bag deployment with preventing serious injuries.

The Neon was totaled, but Cookson said he thought the pickup truck could be repaired.

Bethel police Lt. S.R. White, Trooper Steven Green and Bethel firefighters assisted.

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